This post took a little longer to put together. I hope you enjoy the study like I did.
One of the main “harlots” people might familiar with is the Harlot of Babylon, which we will get to in this study. But this post isn’t solely about the Harlot of Babylon, we have to understand harlotry in the Bible, its meaning, before we can understand the Harlot of Babylon.
By studying the Bible, we see how scripture can interpret itself. Often there are parallels and common themes that help us understand other scriptures and particular words. Note: This is NOT always the case, context is crucial, there may be some exceptions.
Harlot– a woman who has many casual sexual encounters, a prostitute.
Seductress– a woman who seduces someone usually into sexual activity.
The first time we see a “harlot” who is VERY significant to scripture is a woman named Tamar. She was denied a lot regarding having a family of her own. Eventually, she finds a way to trick her father in law in thinking she was a harlot… her father in law, Judah… you know… Judah as one of the tribes of Jacob… the tribe that Jesus’ bloodline is from, yep, from Tamar. (Genesis 38 has the story)
Another well-known harlot in the Bible is Rehab. She lived in Jericho and hid the two spies. When the walls of Jericho fell she and her family were spared. (Joshua 6:25)
Harlots/Seductresses start to make major appearances in Proverbs. From Proverbs, we can make a list of the characteristics of a harlot. (Proverbs Chapters 05-07)
- Attractive Appearance
- Persuasive (words are sweet, like honey)
- Makes Promises
- She Goes After The Ignorant/Uninformed
- Very Confident
- Traps Are In Place To Not Only Lure But KEEP A Person In Her Hold
Harlotry Against God Began In The Desert
The backstory of God’s people becoming the harlot begins with God saving them out of Egypt. Israel becomes God’s bride symbolically. He chose her. He takes care of her. He broke her from slavery and bondage. She is to serve and submit to Him. She is to be set apart.
(NLT) Leviticus 26:31, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so you would no longer be their slaves. I broke the yoke of slavery from your neck so you can walk with your heads held high.”
However, it took very little time for Israel to turn from God. They complained in the desert. They were angry with God. Often, they turned away to other religions and idols. When they thought Moses was “gone” because he hadn’t come down from the mountain, they decided to create their own idol, the golden calf, and give this idol the credit for taking them out of Egypt. (Exodus 32:08)
Harlotry does not have to only relate to sexual intimacy. Sex is meant for marriage, a union, a commitment. It is intimate and only meant to be between a husband and wife. I’ve talked about what intimacy with the Lord can look like a few years ago, please see this post: Intimate Meaning In, “I Do Not Know You.”
Our union with the Lord is to be holy, and such was the case in the Old Testament. We see God’s chosen people walk away from Him. This same problem occurs with today’s Christians. Serving ourselves and serving wickedness is breaking our union to Christ. We break away from our commitment.
I recently covered a chapter showing how harlotry does not ONLY relate to adultery or sexual immorality, but it can and often does relate to idolatry. Post | Being Seduced To Death
Old Testament Harlotry
Once Joshua and the rest of Israel defeated their enemies and rested in the Promised Land, as soon as they died, the next generation went back to what happened in the desert. They worshipped gods, even sacrificing their children to fire. (Leviticus 17:07, 20:03, Deuteronomy 12:31, & Judges 2:10-11)
(NIV) Isaiah 1:21, “See how the faithful city has become a prostitute! She once was full of justice; righteousness used to dwell in her– but now murderers!”
(NIV) Jeremiah 2:20, “Long ago you broke off your yoke and tore off your bonds; you said, ‘I will not serve you!’ Indeed, on every high hill and under every spreading tree you lay down as a prostitute.”
They are constantly called out by God and warned by the prophets. Nothing seems to be enough. Their desire for wickedness only grows.
(NLT) Ezekiel 16:28, “You have prostituted yourself with the Assyrians, too. It seems you can never find enough new lovers! And after your prostitution there, you still were not satisfied.”
(NIV) Jeremiah 2:36, “Why do you go about so much, changing your ways? You will be disappointed by Egypt as you were by Assyria.”
They rejected God, essentially “cheating” on Him, their Husband. They were lured away by false teachings and false prophets. Idols were attractive to them. In turn, harlots often tend to produce more harlots that lead others away.
(NIV) Isaiah 57:03, “”But you–come here, you children of a sorceress, you offspring of adulterers and prostitutes!”
Yet, in the midst of all of this, we still see God reaching out. He does rebuke and discipline. That’s why Israel was captured by Babylon because of their disobedience, and many died. In the book of Amos, we see God using famine and drought as ways to draw the people back to Him, and yet, they do not return. The book of Hosea also illustrates this with the hope that God can love those who have fallen but return, like the prodigal son.
Harlotry Continues Today
Interestingly, in Jeremiah, the judgment of Babylon is discussed and we see this scripture, (NIV) Jeremiah 51:03, “You who live by many waters and are rich in treasures, your end has come, the time for you to be destroyed.” (Judgement on Babylon)
Waters can refer to many nations, peoples, or languages. As we see in this scripture…
(NIV) Isaiah 17:12-13, “Woe to the many nations that rage– they rage like the raging sea! Woe to the peoples who roar– they roar like the roaring of great waters! Although the peoples roar like the roar of surging waters, when He rebukes them they flee far away, driven before the wind like chaff on the hills, like tumbleweed before a gale.”
Many people refuse Jesus. Many believers have fallen away. Those who think they are on a solid foundation in Christ are not, and like the parable of the seeds they fall away.
When we get to Revelation we see the Harlot of Babylon.
(NIV) Revelation 17:01, “One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters.”
Chapter 17 is really great at explaining a lot of what is being seen regarding the vision, and it is here we also have the explanation of what the “many waters” refer to.
(NIV) Revelation 17:15, “Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages.”
The prostitute, as seen in the characteristics of a harlot above, lures people in. She tempts with things we want and what the flesh desires, like the scripture from Jeremiah says she has luring rich treasures.
We are given a warning that we should heed NOW more than ever, not later.
(NIV) Revelation 18:03, “For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.”
(NLT) Revelation 18:04, “Then I heard another voice calling from heaven, “Come away from her, my people. Do not take part in her sins, or you will be punished with her.”
Harlotry today is turning away from Jesus. Putting other priorities (idols) in front of Him. We tend to rush through our day, and “keep busy” with a lot of distractions. We tend to designate a certain time and place for Jesus and that’s it. We do not build our lives around Christ, rather, we build our time with Jesus around our lives/priorities.
It’s tempting to keep wanting to push Him aside, wait for another day. It’s difficult for people to submit to Him and what it means to pick up our cross, and die daily to the flesh. But these things must be done.
Where our treasure is there our heart will be also. God knows the heart of man and whether He is the center.
Be warned. There are consequences.
If you would like to learn more about Christ and what He did on the cross for us, please check out | Why Did A Loving God Kill His Son? (Does God Hate?)
Has God used scriptures to further add to your understanding?
Monthly Scripture- (NKJ) Psalm 85:03, “You have taken away all Your wrath; You have turned from the fierceness of Your anger.”
Second Blog: Peeking Beneath